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The Anatomy of a Viral Video Campaign

Virality is the lifeblood of online marketing, if we can create something promotional and entertaining, it has a fighting chance of gaining its own momentum online. If you work in an industry that allows it, creating lighthearted, even comedic content always helps stack odds in your favour in terms of shares and likes, simply because people…

Virality is the lifeblood of online marketing, if we can create something promotional and entertaining, it has a fighting chance of gaining its own momentum online. If you work in an industry that allows it, creating lighthearted, even comedic content always helps stack odds in your favour in terms of shares and likes, simply because people love to laugh.

On top of humour, people also love convenience. We are generally put off by reading long swathes of text or having to search hard for the information we need (hence why infographics are on the up-and-up). This means that visual media are more likely to go viral than any other format; and the one that you can do most with is video. Cisco estimate that 80% of internet traffic will be video by 2019 – so now is a great time to get ahead of the curve.

Here are 5 examples of comedy viral campaigns done right. They may not all be as popular or have reached as many people, but they are all great examples of lighthearted viral video campaigns that got the job done. Let’s dive in.


Earlier this year, people took to social media to argue that Ronseal’s infamous strapline “does exactly what it says on the tin” is not technically true nowadays as their products don’t necessarily come in tins anymore. Their response was genius:

Now, I know that a joke gets less funny if it’s analysed, but let’s break this down into a few takeaway points of interest for your own viral efforts:

  • Ronseal took the tongue-in-cheek criticism from these “eagle-eyed tweeters,” and responded in an equally tongue-in-cheek way. Never shy away from using non-offensive humour in your videos, and listen to your audience, even if they are taking the mickey. Slightly self-deprecating humour won’t necessarily kill your brand!
  • It was well presented, and added a human touch by mocking how much larger the labelling would have to be and poking fun at the way that the way “does what it says on the tin” has been co-opted into popular culture.
  • The video shows that the company has a human side with its own unique sense of fun, especially when they produced an amusing follow up video, saying they they’d be going back to using the term “tin” after all.

Rainforest Alliance

We all want to do our bit for the good of our planet, but the responsibilities of modern life mean that we can’t all devote ourselves to changing the world on a large scale. Not that we’d particularly want to mirror this poor chap’s adventure, but this US advert shows that with the help of organisations such as the Rainforest Alliance, responsible shopping makes it easier than you think to do your bit.

Here’s the ethically sourced, organic takeaway from that video:

  • Features some splendidly satirical and relatable jabs at modern life to grab your interest and keep you watching.
  • It’s a refreshing departure from the usual charity ads that tug at your heartstrings. It goes for a different approach and does it well. If your competitors are all going down one path with their marketing, it doesn’t mean you necessarily need to as well!
  • The campaign itself makes the process of shopping responsibly very easy by clearly displaying a tree frog emblem on all supported products. Look at the practicalities of the action you want your customers to take and make it as easy as possible to follow through with a purchase, and be sure to telegraph this in your video.

Old Spice

As far as viral campaigns go, the Old Spice commercials with Terry Crews are legendary. If I’m honest, this was the last example I thought of because it made such a good job of being entertaining, my brain had filed it under “comedy,” so I was being marketed to almost without knowing it. These ads did air on US TV, but my mental misfiling shows that a successful viral campaign shouldn’t just be an ad like you’d see on TV – it needs to be the entertainment.

A powerful campaign with some powerful lessons:

  • Focus more on providing entertainment value than the hard sell. There can be salesy tactics in there, sure, but you can use it to poke fun at them too. Men’s grooming adverts can be very much about how the brand wants the customer to feel when they use the product, “powerful” being one of these go-to emotions. And it doesn’t get much more powerful than “DOUBLE SUN POWWEEEERRRRRRR!”
  • This is a great example of a series of videos, featuring more of a theme than a narrative. Don’t tell a story over a number of episodes, people joining you in the middle may get confused. Stick to a theme where the videos don’t need to be viewed in a set order to get what is going on. Not that you necessarily “get” what’s going on in the Old Spice adverts, but you understand my point.
  • These adverts successfully helped revamp Old Spice in the public consciousness. It is a long established company, and had been sidelined as an older person’s product. They bravely hit out at their old branding, and did not disappoint. So if your company’s been around for a while, don’t be afraid to do the same; in fact video is possibly the best way to do it!


Tired of boring promotional corporate videos? So are Stafford IT company, Risual.

What can we take away:

  • This campaign mocks regular promotional business videos and makes fun of the usual things that companies like to boast about. You can use mockery in your campaign, as long as it’s not at anyone’s expense. This mocks the concept of corporate promotion – and you can’t hurt a concept’s feelings.
  • Once again, entertainment value takes precedence over the hard sell, though because of this concept, they can easily blend the company’s actual features and benefits with comedic exaggeration.
  • Whether you want to use comedy, novelty or want to keep things totally serious, a great way to instil trust is to feature your team in your video. If your customers can put faces to names, even in some small way, it highlights your organisation’s human side. We are all a little nosey, and these kind of videos provide a controlled peek behind the curtain for your prospects.

You may also want to check out Risual’s other campaigns, Zombie Employer of the Year (for Halloween) and Let’s Get Risual.

BlendTec – Will it Blend?

When buying an appliance, we all want to know it’s going to do its job. So the folks at Blendtec came up with an idea for a (now quite successful) series of videos…

Bullet-point smoke; don’t breathe this:

  • You’ll notice from this video and from others in the series that the format is simple and repeatable. A viewer who has never seen an episode of “Will it Blend?” before doesn’t need any additional information to work out what’s going on. Note that every episode is prefixed with a punchy explanation of what’s going on – in this case “Will it blend? That is the question.” The premise, the setup and the execution are all presented in individual self-contained videos.
  • On top of the simple yet fairly rigid format, a set presenter and liberal use of catchphrases add to the repeatability of the series, making the whole concept more memorable.
  • Tom’s delivery is slightly cheesy, possibly intentionally so. Don’t shy away from a bit of (figurative) cheese! Intentionally charming-yet-corny production can come across as endearing; but don’t let this be an excuse for making no effort!

So now we’ve taken a look at some of the viral video campaigns that are out there, join me next time for a more in-depth look at some of these lessons, and a few other hints and tips to get you on your way to a stellar video concept.

Interested in putting together a promotional video for your company? Yell offers a comprehensive and affordable video production service. For more info, call 0800 777 445 for a friendly chat, or see here for more information.

[bctt tweet=”Make your videos more lol than lull with tips from these fun viral campaigns.”]

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